One, Me, Myself, and I
a Bountiful Woman
bountiful is a way of life--full, rich, robust. While
"overweight," "obese," and "fat," women may wait for life
to begin or hide until something imagined is different,
bountiful women move forward . . .
get tired of hearing people talk about weight?
Catherine told me it seemed like "everyone talks about
weight all the time, mine, theirs, Oprah's, the little
girl's next door!" At the age of forty, Catherine, a
retailer, has been many different weights over the years,
and is acutely aware of other people's attitudes about
personal size. She has heard friends and customers talk
about their latest food plan, whether they were gaining
weight or losing weight, even how much fat a restaurant
meal contained. These people were deciding whether they
had worked out enough to have dessert!
obsession with food--not eating, eating, what to eat,
when to eat, fat, thin, large, small--it was all driving
me crazy! And I was caught up in it too. I have done
it all, every plan, every pill, every therapy, everything
I've thought of, heard about, read about. I finally came
to the place where it was time to be and enjoy who I am,
including my strong, resilient, healthy body.
admit that I would like to be thinner, but I am not going
to pay the price required to be thin. When I'm
watching my weight, it seems like I can't see or do
anything else in life. I can't be myself and be thin. So,
I made the decision to accept myself at whatever size I
happen to be." Catherine told me that she believed
self-acceptance was the first step, the most difficult
step, to confront in redefining herself.
large woman myself, for years I struggled with accepting
and appreciating myself. Today, I do not define
myself by my size, but by all that makes me who I am. I
embrace my various parts, as a healthy person, an
interesting person, a worthwhile person, a loving person,
a lovable person, an entitled person, even a pain the
neck at times. As a woman, or wife, or friend, or
psychologist, or artist, I know I can be successful in
each aspect of my life. My options are no longer
arbitrarily limited because I feel undeserving or somehow
a problem for someone else.
not alone in this experience. Many of us have allowed
ourselves to be defined by others' negative views of
size. So how shall we define ourselves? Should we be
identified as fat women, large women, fluffy women, obese
women, women who are out of control, women with extra
weight? Try some of these definitions on for size. Some
people avoid using the word "fat," which Deb, a
forty-two-year-old psychologist, uses openly and easily.
She said, "The word 'fat' conjures up an image of juicy
ripeness for me and implies that one is abundantly
available for living. As long as 'fat' is used as a
descriptive term, rather than a judgment or a weapon
against me, I'm fine with that definition."
a twenty-nine-year-old aerobics instructor, utterly
rejects being referred to as "obese." She said, "The
term 'obese' sounds like 'oh beast' to me. I find it
totally offensive. So whenever I hear that word used,
whether applied to me or not, I express my negative
reaction by making funny sounds. I growl, roar, and hiss
like a beast. People get the point, usually smile with
me, and understand how that might feel." In her
lighthearted way, Lisa has found an effective means to
communicate that she is uncomfortable with the clinical,
much more comfortable with phrases like 'women of size'
or 'women of substance.' These have a positive
overlay to them." Andrea, a successful magazine editor at
age forty-nine, does not want to be aggressive with her
business associates, but she also feels uncomfortable
with many of the terms used to describe people who are
large. She said, "Whenever someone uses an unflattering
term, I gently pair their word with the word 'large,' a
term I'm comfortable with. I'm not pushy, just firm."
define myself as a bountiful woman. To me, bountiful
is a way of life--full, rich, robust. While "overweight,"
"obese," and "fat" women may wait for life to begin or
hide until something imagined is different, bountiful
women move forward, regardless of their relationship
status, the amount of money in their bank account, or the
number that comes up on the scale. Some bountiful women
never set foot on the scale. They lead healthy lives,
make reasonable food choices, and let their bodies take
their natural shape. A bountiful woman may decide to
exercise. She may not. She may decide to lose weight. She
may not. She may decide to date. She may not. She may
decide to advance her career, or invest her time in
volunteer work, or take a class in medieval history, or
she may not. She never sells herself short nor limits her
choices because of her size. A bountiful woman lives life
in the moment, as fully as anyone else on the planet.
a thirty-seven-year-old social worker, is a bountiful
woman--positive and upbeat in a comfortable, relaxed
way. Starting most days looking and feeling great,
you might even say she struts when she walks down the
street. Judy told me, "I'll walk down the street humming
some song that energizes me. I especially like singing
'Pretty Woman' because I am! Yes, I know the movie had a
different theme, but I've made it my song. Even though no
one else hears the words I'm singing in my head, everyone
must get the message that I'm okay in the world. I'm okay
with myself, and that includes all of me." Not that every
day is all sunshine and smiles. Judy admits, "I'm like
anyone else. There are some days when I'm in the pits. I
pull my energy into myself and shield myself from
whatever or whomever I encounter. I'm like a turtle on
those days, with a shell that protects me. But before I
know it, I'm feeling confident and capable again, and I'm
out strutting my stuff."
is not the only strutter I know. A therapist by
profession, Lee loves to strut, and has been referred to
as "bigger than life"! She is visible. When she is in
your presence, you know it. She wears hats. She wears big
silky flowers. She wears flowing clothes made of
gorgeous, magnificent fabrics, always in colors to
enhance her beauty. She wears high-heeled shoes. Her
personal fashion style often garners compliments, such as
"beautiful" and "gorgeous."
glows and has her say when she talks. Lee told me,
"Granted, some people seem overwhelmed by my presence at
times, but most get swept up in my energy. Since I enjoy
and accept myself, other people feel encouraged to enjoy
and accept themselves as well. I've turned my size into
an asset." Not all, or maybe even most, large women want
to or could pull this off. Lee has her own way of
enjoying life to the utmost. But we can all follow Lee's
example by choosing to be alive right now. Lee has her
style; you have yours. Strut your stuff in a way that
feels right to you. Express your self-acceptance in the
way you walk, talk, dress, and handle your relationships.
Any other way, as Lee would say, is just no
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